United States – California

Country: United States

State/Province: California

Document type: Vision

Title: The California Fuel Cell Revolution: A Vision for Advancing Economic, Social and Environmental Priorities

Released: July 2018

Summary Points:

  • Emphasis is on mobility applications with key milestones including:
    • 2025 – 200 refuelling stations
    • 2030 – 1,000 stations, 1,000,000 vehicles
  • Three strategic priorities to support scale-up are outlined:
    • Enable the market – foster large-scale infrastructure development through a market-driven policy framework that attracts capital investment, increases availability of hydrogen, and reduces costs.
    • Establish the market – incentive consumers to purchase fuel cell vehicles, establish a state-wide fuelling network, and develop a dedicated hydrogen supply.
    • Expand the market – diversify the portfolio of fuel cell products, deploy ‘heavy-duty’ hydrogen infrastructure along the State’s freight corridors, and connect hydrogen and electricity as energy carriers.

In November 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) released its report ‘2022 Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality‘ Amongst other things, the Scoping Plan calls for accelerating the transition from combustion of fossil fuels to hydrogen and suggests that producing hydrogen required under the Scoping Plan Scenario with electrolysis would require about 10 gigawatts (GW) of additional solar capacity. Hydrogen-related actions included in the Scoping Plan Scenario: AB 32 GHG Inventory sectors include:

  • 20% of aviation fuel demand to be met by electricity (batteries) or hydrogen (fuel cells) in 2045.
  • 25% of Ocean-Going Vessels (OGV) utilise hydrogen fuel cell electric technology by 2045.
  • 100% of passenger and other locomotive sales are zero emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2030. 100% of line haul locomotive sales are ZEV by 2035. Line haul and passenger rail would rely primarily on hydrogen fuel cell technology, and others primarily utilise electricity.
  • Hydrogen use for 25% of process heat by 2035 and 100% by 2045.
  • Renewable hydrogen blended in fossil gas pipelines at 7% energy (~20% by volume), ramping up between 2030 and 2040. In the 2030s, dedicated hydrogen pipelines constructed to serve certain industrial clusters.

In February 2023, an Ordnance authorised the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to proceed with a competitive bidding process for proposals for the design, engineering, procurement and construction of the Scattergood Generating Station (SGS) Units 1 and 2 Green Hydrogen-Ready Modernization Project. Key features of the proposal include:

  • Combined Cycle and Balance-of-Plant Equipment
  • 346 megawatts (MW) capacity, Hydrogen Ready,
  • Estimated Cost: US$800 million
  • In-Service Date: 30/12/2029

The Ordnance notes that the LADWP has made no final determinations regarding the proposed project and retains its full discretion to make a determination regarding the proposed project, including, but not limited to, the possible selection of an alternatively analysed project or the selection of no project at all.

In April 2023, the California Air Resources Board approved a rule that requires a phased-in transition toward zero-emission medium-and-heavy duty vehicles – the Advanced Clean Fleets Regulation would apply to fleets performing drayage operations, those owned by State, local, and federal government agencies, and high priority fleets and would affect medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds, off-road yard tractors, and light-duty mail and package delivery vehicles. A flexible approach to fleet decarbonisation would see last mile delivery and yard trucks transition to zero-emissions by 2035, work trucks and day cab tractors by 2039, and sleeper cab tractors and specialty vehicles by 2042.

In August 2023, the Governor of California directed the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to develop California’s Hydrogen Market Development Strategy, similar to the Zero-Emission Vehicle Market Development Strategy published in 2021. The Strategy is to be developed in consultation with state agencies – including the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, and the California Public Utilities Commission.

In October 2023, following a Funding Opportunity Announcement in September 2022 to solicit Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs in accordance with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the seven regional clean hydrogen hubs selections for award negotiation (totalling awards of USD$7 billion). The California Hydrogen Hub was one of the seven hubs selected for award negotiation (award amount up to USD$1.2 billion).

In October 2023, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced a US$80 million contract with Stadler Rail, Inc. to deliver zero-emission, hydrogen intercity passenger trains into California service.  The contract includes a base order of US$80 million for the first four trainsets with options for up to 25 additional trainsets that can be used throughout California.  In February 2024, Caltrans announced a US$127 million agreement with Stadler Rail, Inc. for six more zero-emission, hydrogen-powered passenger trainsets, building upon the earlier October 2023 announcement.


The California Air Resources Board ‘2023 Annual Evaluation of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Deployment & Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development’ can be found here.

The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership (formally the California Fuel Cell Partnership) is an industry/government collaboration aimed at expanding the market for fuel cell electric vehicles powered by hydrogen. Its site contains resources and other information on the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

California Energy Commission Hydrogen Fact Sheet (dated June 2021).


Updated: February 2024